A writing prompt for you

Regular readers of these Ramblings will know this post is a little ‘off-beat‘ to those I generally write. However, read on, I am certain you’ll find this entertaining if not a little… well, read on to find out

I have the sunglasses.

Racing at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi

Although I am a multi-genre author, I do not tend to write science fiction and have never attempted a dystopian novel.

However, this does not stop my thoughts from wandering into such realms, such as it did a short while ago.

I was contemplating the forthcoming lifting of travel restrictions and therefore, by default, thinking about the pandemic, when this idea entered my mind.

Now, I have heard several conspiracy theories which claim Covid 19 is fake. Many of these theories then speculate about mass public control, or Illuminati culling the human species and so forth.

I am sure you have read many such posts on social, especially at the start of the Pandemic.

As part of my thought process, which was an uncontrollable stirring of the muses, I recalled the 2007 film ‘Invasion’ and the ‘Pod People’.

For those who are not familiar with the film, this is the explanation on Wiki:  

“In ‘The Invasion’, the aliens are a virus. After the person falls asleep, the virus re-writes human DNA.

Then, these Genetically Modified (post-humans?) vomit a gelatinous substance to continue the invasion.

As their invasion snowballs, the pod people transform humans by injecting them with the substance under the guise of ‘influenza vaccines’”.

 So, you may be asking… if you are still reading this… what my mind was doing with all this information.

Well, simple, it was drafting a rough outline for a novel that goes something like this. (Conspiracy theorists get your pens ready!)

What if this Covid 19 pandemic is fake?

What if it is planned unilateral action taken by world leaders?

What if they are doing it to appease an extra-terrestrial lifeform who have returned to ‘Harvest’ their human crop?

What if our governments are attempting to assuage the aliens by offering a limited number of humans, hence the major number of ‘deaths’ in the first wave?

Then, a lesser number in the second and third waves of the pandemic and the lockdowns, as our leaders negotiate with the extraterrestrials?

What if they are hiding the truth to protect us, to protect society?

It is said the human race may have come from stardust… maybe our ancestors were simply seeds?

Many peoples ask what is the point of life, of being… maybe we are just being bred as food, on a farm we call the universe?

Maybe we developed beyond that which was expected, maybe we have a chance of survival if we give up some of our numbers every 1000 years or so… maybe, one day we could fight back, even escape?

Maybe… You write the story… I’ll read it.


In the meantime, could I temp you to read one of my books? Check them out if you will by visiting my website.

Interior Book Layout & Design Principles

I have recently been helping several new-ish authors, along with some quiet well-established writers, with the design and layout of their book’s interiors.

It appears many authors, even those with some experience, do not understand the established and recognised principles of interior book design.

The standard layout of books is no accident. It has evolved from the first medieval printing presses to the current day online publishing and POD.

The issue here is, if these basic conventions are not followed, at least to the greater degree, your book will look and feel amateurish to readers.

Thus, leading to slow take-up of your title and possibly, even probably, eliciting poor or bad reviews.

In short, an inadequately formatted book, even one which has undergone meticulous copy, line and development editing, will fall short of the standards expected and required by today’s avid readers.

This post, unusually for me on this blog, directly addresses the basic principles and concepts of interior formatting of paperback & hardcover books and, to some degree, that of their lesser cousin, the eBook.

I have not called this post ‘Interior Formatting,’ as that covers a much wider and far more complex set of procedures and is covered elsewhere, much in my books ‘The Frugal Author’ and ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’.

At the end of this post, you will find these two books which address many, if not most aspects, of independent and small press authorship.

Both books are ready to download now and, I am certain, you will find the answers to many of the question you have but have never asked.

NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE IS THE PROMISED POST….


BOOK DESIGN AND SECTION LAYOUT

Note: a page is one side of a leaf.

When you ‘turn a page’ you are actually turning the leaf of a book, which is two pages. Each side of the leaf is a single page.

In this post, ‘Blank’ indicates a page typically left blank by traditional mainstream publishers.


FRONT MATTER

The front matter of a book consists of its very first pages: the title page, copyright page, table of contents, etc. There may also be a preface by the author or a foreword by someone familiar with their work.

First Page: Blank/Flyleaf

Leave this blank.

2nd Page: Frontispiece/Blank

Page 2 is the back of page 1 and remains blank unless you include an illustration.

Such an illustration is called Frontispiece.

This decorative illustration or photo appears on the page next to the title page.

Traditionally, a Frontispiece will be placed on a left-hand page.

Title page

Usually opposite the Frontispiece.

It shows the full title of the book, along with the author’s name as they appear on the cover.

Copyright page/Colophon

The Colophon or copyright page includes technical information about copyrights, edition dates, typefaces, ISBN, as well as your publisher and printer.

Usually positioned on the reverse of the title page.

Blank Page

Accolades

Quotes from esteemed reviewers and publications in praise of the book.

This praise, or some of them/it, often appears on the back cover too.

Dedication page

A page where the author names the person or people to whom they dedicate their book, and why.

This typically comes after the copyright page.

Blank Page

Table of Contents

A list of chapter headings and the page numbers where they begin.

The table of contents, often abbreviated to ToC, should list all major sections that follow, both within the body and in the back matter.

Blank or Epigraph

A quote or excerpt which indicates the book’s subject matter.

An Epigraph can be taken from another book, a poem, song, quotation or almost any source.

It generally immediately precedes the first chapter.

Preface:

Reason for writing, word of thanks.

An introduction written by the author, a preface relates how the book came into being or provides context for the current edition.

Blank

Foreword

An introduction is written by a person other than the author.

Often written by a friend or scholar of the author’s work. Otherwise by a recognised authority of the books subject’s matter.

It is an honour to be asked to write a Foreword.


BODY

The body of a book is pretty self-explanatory: the main text that goes between the front matter and back matter. For readers and writers alike, this is where the magic happens — but it’s not just the content that’s crucial, but also how you arrange it.

Prologue (for fiction)

The section before the main story begins.

A prologue aims to set the stage and intrigue the reader.

Many prologues contain notes of intriguing events which only become contextualized as the reader gets deeper in the story.

Introduction (for nonfiction)

A few pages that usher the reader into the subject matter.

The introduction clarifies the books setting and or events linking to the content, along with other information relating to the main narrative.

Note: The difference between a preface and an introduction is a preface is personal to the author, discussing why they wrote the book and what their process was.

An introduction relates directly to the subject matter and establishes the position of the book in relation to its content.

Chapters

All books have chapters, or sections, into which the narrative or content is divided.

Epilogue (for fiction)

An Epilogue is a scene that wraps up the story in a satisfying manner.

Often an epilogue takes place sometime in the future from the last chapter.

if the book is part of a series, the epilogue may raise new questions or hint at what is to come. A technique is known as a ‘Hook’.

Blank

Conclusion (for nonfiction)

This section sums up the core ideas, values and concepts of the text.

Explicitly labelled conclusions are becoming less frequent in nonfiction books, which now commonly offer final thoughts in the last chapter, but academic dissertations are still be formatted this way.

Afterword

This allows giving final notes on the books content not otherwise addressed.

It is a useful tool for edited, revised and new editions.

The Afterword can be written by the author or another person.

Postscript

A brief final comment after the narrative comes to an end, usually just a sentence or two.

For example, “Mr Archibald Carruthers died at his Cotswold cottage three months after this book’s publication. Happily, he saw his story come to fruition.)


BACK MATTER

Also known as the ‘end matter’ is the material found at the back of a book.

Authors utilise the back matter to offer readers further context or information.

The back matter is also an excellent marketing tool, listing the authors ‘other publications’ and giving links to websites.

Acknowledgements

A section to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed to the book’s creation.

The acknowledgements generally appear directly after the last chapter.

About the author

Is where the author gives a summary of their previous work, education, and personal life.

For example,  “John Doe lives in Hampshire with his wife, two wayward daughters and two even more wayward Great Danes”.

Copyright permissions

If the author has sought permission to reproduce song lyrics, artwork, or extended excerpts from other books, they should be attributed here.

Such items may also appear in the front matter.

Discussion questions

A section rarely used nowadays, but worth considering for inclusion.

Thought-provoking questions and prompts about the book, intended for use in an academic context or book clubs.

Appendix or addendum (nonfiction)

Additional details or updated information relevant to the book, especially if it’s a newer edition.

Chronology or timeline (nonfiction)

List of events in sequential order, which may be helpful for the reader, especially if the narrative is presented out of order. A chronology is sometimes part of the appendix.

Endnotes

Supplementary notes relating to specific passages of the text and denoted within the body by superscripts.

Most often used in nonfiction, but occasionally found in experimental/comedic fiction.

Glossary

Definitions of words or other elements which appear in the text.

In works of fiction, the glossary may contain entries about individual characters or settings.

A glossary should appear in alphabetical order.

For example, in a science fiction book, the Glossary could list the names and details of individual planets in the story.

Index

Generally used in non-fiction.

A list of special terms or phrases used in the book, along with the pages on which they appear, so the reader can find them easily.

An index should appear in alphabetical order.

Bibliography/reference list

A formal list of citations, a comprehensive breakdown of sources cited in the work.

Blank


Here are those two books I mentioned earlier, books no author should be without.

The Frugal Author

Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2EYcJjZ

Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/B07B27SPBL

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/3JynnB

Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/301nGYY

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/bP5O9

Amazon worldwide: http://authl.it/B07K5Z3F9K

Dear Diary 2020… Round Two

You can blame ‘Dianna’ for this post.

You see, back on July the 16th, I wrote a post entitled ‘Dear Diary… 2020’.

Unlike many people, who believed this Covid thing was about over and soon we would all be dancing naked in the streets and shagg hugging random strangers, (at least I can print the word hugging), I did not believe any such thing.

You can read ‘Dear Diary 2020’ HERE and then come back when you are all caught up.

Okay, now your back I’ll carry on.

So, why do I say blame Dianna?

Because she added this comment to my original Dear Diary post, it reads,

“Please, please, please update this diary for us! Your humour here has us all chuckling and we all need that now.”

Except for this short comment, I have no idea who Dianna is, but I do know she has great taste in blogs, a marvellous sense of humour, and sounds like my kinda girl.

Thank you, Dianna.

So, I shall start this post, which I am calling it ‘Dear Diary 2020… Round two’, as that pretty much sums it up, and as this post starts off where we left the first, in July.


JULY

Let me take you back to July the 6th, something I neglected to say and something which was overlooked by just about everybody on the planet

This was the day CNN reported an outbreak of the bubonic plague in Mongolia.

Seriously. I kid you not. The world was focused on a strain of the flu, the warning the world could be overtaken by the Bubonic Plague, the same ‘Black Death’ that killed over 50 million people on its last visit seemed to pass us by.

I mean, what are a few boils and erupting pustules in comparison to a coronavirus sneeze?

So, nothing to worry about there then.

The UK announced it will suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to the controversial security law that was passed (or will be next month, August). Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned Beijing that the UK is watching and keeping track of the rights of Hong Kong citizens.

Okay, while this is a good thing, as many current Honk Kong Chinese were British citizens until 1997, I cannot see Beijing quaking an the knees knowing they are ‘being watched’ by the UK government… anyway, I don’t think the Chinese ministers have ever watched Cape Fear.

However, the most disturbing news was for Ireland, who may now have to reconsider their entire national identity.

It is now said Leprechauns originated in Italy rather than Ireland.

After a five-year study, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and Cambridge University have concluded the word “leprechaun” originated in Ancient Rome. According to their findings, the Irish “leipreachan” comes from the Latin “lupercus”, the name of a Roman god in charge of protecting flocks and also his cheeky male followers.

Devastating!


AUGUST

A giant explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, On August 4, killed 135 people and injured another 5000. It was soon revealed the blast was caused by badly stored ammonium nitrate.

Why any peaceful country would want to hoard such a vast quantity of that chemical is… well… let’s just say, open to speculation.

The bit I loved… okay, that may sound harsh, but hay ho… is the warehouse in question was called ‘The Firecracker’ warehouse. (Once, allegedly, being a fireworks factory).

At least the building lived up to its name. No trading standards investigation needed on that count.

On August 9, protests in Belarus erupted after the election results came in.

Current President Alexander Lukashenko beat opposition candidate Sventia Tikhanovskya after receiving 80% of the votes.

Tikhanovskya refused to accept the election results, stating it was clear more people voted for him.

Hmmm… Sounds familiar…

cousins maybe?

A possible Russian link…

nah, never… can’t be…can it?

Oh… and this… it was reported that Kim Jong Un was in a coma, and the photos of him alive and well back in May were fake. The rumour also states his sister, Kim Yo Jong is geared up to be his successor.

Then Kim Jong Un appeared at a party meeting, warning North Korea about the dangers from the coronavirus pandemic and Typhoon Bavi.

North Korea has still not reported any coronavirus cases in the country and Kim Yo Jong is still geared up to be something… or not.

Now an incident of note; Workers at a service station between Horsham and Crawley, (UK,) have been threatened with toilet brush during what they described as a “slight misunderstanding” over social distancing in the bathrooms.

Police Inspector Darren Taylor said: “How the toilet brush became embroiled into the disturbance we really don’t know.”

Readers will be pleased to know he added, “The toilet brush has now been returned to its cubicle”.

I guess the lesson we take from this is, keep you space… unless you want a prickly object inserted into a place the sun don’t shine.


SEPTEMBER

Breaking world news on September 1 came from Canada, yes, you read that right, something actually happened in Canada.

It’s okay, I’ll wait until get a stiff drink and are sitting down…

It was reported a karaoke bar in Canada could face fines after at 30 coronavirus cases were linked to it. The bar announced they will close for a week and urge their patrons to get tested.

What… you want more, sorry, that’s it.

After all, we are talking about Canada here.

BHM… Black Hair matters, no really… On September 8, protests in South Africa erupted after a controversial TREsemme advertisement was shown on Television.

The controversial advertisement compared black hair to blond, calling the blond hair ‘normal’ while saying the black hair was ‘frizzy and dull.’

The company has apologized for the advertisement and suspended all employees involved in publishing it.

So, the little man, who was most probably following orders, gets it; while the corporate marches on regardless.

(Get me, sounding all political and socialist.)

Anyway, the SH-1-T hit the proverbial fan regarding Coronavirus, when it was reported the daily Covid cases in Europe reached a record high. Lebanon’s coronavirus cases skyrocketed. Spanish officials urged the city of Madrid to enforce stricter restrictions or face serious risks.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the country is already experiencing its second wave of the virus. Israel passed a law banning mass protests during lockdown. Australia was sued by a consumer rights groups for the COVID-19 outbreak that occurred at the Tyrol ski resort, Ischgl. It was reported Belgium is at risk of becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.

The Czech Republic faced a whole country lockdown, as the area has the most number of cases on the entire continent. France and Germany are inflicting stricter coronavirus guidelines after a rise in cases. Portugal announced new restrictions, implementing a curfew.

Chinese officials began a controversial emergency vaccine program administering emergency vaccines to hundreds of thousands of people before the vaccine has gone through safe clinical trials.

I want to say something funny or controversial here, but, to be honest, I am lost for words.

Let’s finish the month with this…

A sex shop in the US is offering female customers free red, white, and blue vibrators if they pledge to vote in the (then) upcoming White House election.

The ‘Erotique adult store’ in Montana says it wants to, “Make America orgasm again”, and is giving away 2,200 vibrators in a promotion dubbed The Great American Orgasm.

The sex toys are accompanied by an American flag sticker that states: “I came and I voted.”

Sorry if I mention this too late for you to take advantage of their generosity. (Dianna?)


OCTOBER

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson,  warned it could be a difficult winter for the nation (United Kingdom). Now, I am unsure if he is referring to the Covid situation, has advanced knowledge of the weather forecasts, or expects our estranged uncle, the one we never speak of, to come visiting?

I suppose much depends on if, when, and how restricted our lockdown measures are.

Who knows?

This is bad, an abortion ruling in Poland led to nationwide protests. The controversial ruling banned nearly all abortions except those in the case of rape, incest, or risk to the mother’s health.

While, in the US of America… (It could only happen in the States), a man in Illinois has kept a half-eaten sandwich the then-vice President, Richard Nixon, from September 1960. Steve Jenne, then a teenager, grabbed the sandwich when Nixon visited his hometown.

“I looked around and thought, if no one else was going to take it, I am going to take it’”, he said.

Jenne has since written a book about the sandwich and been interviewed about it on The Tonight Show.

What… a book and an appearance… now that takes the biscuit…

See what I did there… biscuit (cookie in American)… sandwich… food, eats, snacks… NO, oh forget it.


NOVEMBER

I’m not going to mention anything that’s happening right now, as I will leave scope for a third part of these Dear Diary posts. (If Dianna like this one too?)

Oh, except this one thing…

Scientists in Australia have discovered no signs of alien life after searching more than 10 million solar systems.

The research team used a gigantic telescope in the Western Australian outback to perform the vast search, which they dubbed ‘looking for ET‘.

“We found no technosignatures – no sign of intelligent life,” one of the scientists said.

So, while 2020 still has some surprises in store for us, Alien invasion does not seem to be one of them.

However, they have not ruled out a Zombie apocalypse 2020 https://amzn.to/3nogJMw, a Giant Asteroid collision , or Artificial Intelligence becoming self-aware… think Skynet/Terminator?

So, there is still time for 2020 to out with a bang… Literally… in a literal sense.

I’ll leave you with one more thing to mull over…

Australian scientists claim they have proven time travel is mathematically possible, by reconciling Albert Einstein’s famous theory of general relativity and the grandfather paradox.

Germain Tobar, who led the research at the University of Queensland, said a time traveller could theoretically go back in time to kill the first person infected by Covid-19 and thus prevent the pandemic.

OK… Hands up… Who want’s that job?

Time, stimulus and unanticipated events

It seems I no longer have enough time to regularly write this blog. This post explains the reason, or at least one of them.

Most of you will know, at least I hope you do, I love it when random things appear to me and stimulate my writers muse.

Often the best thoughts and ideas come from the unexpected, the surprises and unanticipated events.

I either scribble down notes or mull over whatever stimulated my mind and write my thoughts at a latter date.

I shall return to those notes. Many will become the basis of a short story, often one idea can give birth to a succession of tales, often of various genre, and with seemingly little or no relation to each other.

These stimuli may a form the premise of a novel, or a component of one. Some may suggest the possibility of a non-fictional work.

Now, these unanticipated events, the ones which ‘blow my frock up’, are as unpredictable as the English weather.

One may come from overhearing a private conversation, another from observation, yet another from an article or interview broadcast on the radio and, of course, there is a wealth of written material, both online and physical.

The joy is, one can never know what it is that will prompt the mind, set your thoughts into an overdrive mode, or, indeed, when such an event will occur.

Today, an hour or so before writing this post, I stumbled across something of the ilk.

I was browsing a section of the web, with a vague notion of the sort of thing I was looking for.

By that I mean, it was the start of a research period and I was casting my net wide before knowing where to hone in on the specifics, when I read the following short, but intriguing article regarding an important area of English politics.

Now, that may sound a bit dull to you, but trust me, read this article from The Guardiannewspaper. I am sure you will then understand how many stories you could create… and that does not include the ideas you can develop from ‘clicking‘ on and reading the information found by following the contained hyperlinks.

This is one reason I need to live to be one hundred and forty million years old, then, possibly, I would have enough time to write all I wish, including regularly posting here.

Have a read, tell me what you think.

Keep happy, Paul.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/it-s-true-we-ignore-parts-of-our-history-and-not-just-about-our-colonial-past/ar-BB1aAhCV?ocid=msedgntpand


Talking about short stories, why not indulge yourself in my short story collection, ‘Tales of Crime & Violence‘.

Stories, I assure you, which will not conclude as you might think, or hope.

Download the eBook/Kindle now, or order your Paperback copy.

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Dear Diary… 2020

Before I start, this post was not wholly my idea.

This post is vaguely in the form of a diary which looks back on 2020. It is an amalgamation of pieces taken from other blogs, social posts and such, with a snippet or two of my own observations mixed in for good measure.

This is my disclaimer… as such, the following is far from my usual form of ‘Posting’. The following is purely for entertainment purposes, the expressed views herewith in are not necessarily those of the author.


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January.

Australia caught on fire.

I am unsure if the fire was extinguished, it may still be smouldering away.

The reason I don’t know, is because the media circus had not finished talking about those fires when their attention was distracted as we came to the brink of war with Iran. The [British] Foreign Office warns British nationals against all but essential travel to Iran and Iraq, following a US airstrike in Baghdad the previous day, in which Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed.

We may still be ‘almost at war’ with them but the reporting stopped in favour of telling us about Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt, who, it seems, spoke to one another at an awards show and everyone flipped the crap out.

Men can walk safely on the streets once again as Reynhard Sinaga, described as “the most prolific rapist in British legal history”, is sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of raping or sexually assaulting 48 men in Manchester. Police believe he may have been responsible for assaulting a total of nearly 200 victims.

This almost coincided with the ‘Big Brother‘ Police announcement that live facial recognition technology will be rolled out across London.

Then there was this thing happening in China. Something to do with wet meat or bats or such.

But again, the press became distracted after Prince Harry and a girl called Megan decided to “step back as senior members” the Royal family. At the same time, something was going on in the USA about impeachment. It seems that is a thing, who knew… who knows?

Then this Chinese thing (they decided to term it as a Coronavirus), it showed up in the USA “officially,” and the media got all excited… but then Kobe Bryant died, seems people in America knew who he was and it upset them so the media spent their time dredging up every bit of nonsensicle information about him, non-stop, 24/7.

In the UK, now with Boris at the helm, we finally managed to kick all the shit shifters, the self-opinionated, egotistical, communistic national-party fascists out of parliament, so the government could honour the people’s wishes from the referendum and get Great Britain out of the diabolical farce they call the European Union.

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February. 

Iowa crapped itself with the caucus results and the president was acquitted (from that impeachment I mentioned last month) and the Speaker of the House took ten-whole-years to rip up a speech.

Then ‘The WHO’, That’s not the band or the doctor, but the ‘World Health (dis)Organisation’, gave the Chinese virus a name, they called it, in a most scientifically creative way, COVID19, which confused some really important people in charge of our lives as they thought that meant there were 18 other versions before this one. But all it means is CoronaVirusDisease of 2019, which, when contracted comes out as ‘Covid19’.

Then some bloke called Harvey Weinstein was found guilty. Many Americans started asking if Corona beer was safe to drink, and everyone on Facebook became doctors and viral experts overnight. They then informed us that regular flu generally killed more people each year than all the COVIDs which had come before. You know, all those non-existent COVID numbers, 1 to 18.

So, clearly there was little to be concerened about… unless you are a conspiracist. Then you better watch your back because… if they are really after you, you are not paranoid.

The first British death from Covid19 is confirmed by the Japanese Health Ministry; it is a man in quarantin on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, anchored off Japan.

The first death from coronavirus in the UK was confirmed this month, as the number of cases exceeded 100, with a total of 115 having tested positive. England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, tells MPs the UK has moved to the second stage of dealing with COVID-19 – from “containment” to the “delay” phase.

 

StockMarket

March.

This is when the shit hit the fan big time.

A chap named Warren dropped out of the American presidential race and Sanders was like Bernie or bust.

Then, just as things were getting fruity, Italy shut its whole country down and this COVID19 thing was no longer considered confined but officially recognised as a Pandemic. (A Pandemic is when lots of people start dropping dead all over the place and no one can stop it happening in a hurry.)

So, a nationwide state of emergency was declared in many countries like the USA and Great Britain and the other bit, that um, whatsit… oh, yes the European Union thingy and people were told to go home and stay there, not to come out until you were at least eighty years old.

In some countries they added to their death toll by shooting anyone not at home.

But it didn’t change anything. Everyone was confused about what it was or what to do about it. Many people thought it was just a bad dose off the flu. So, everyone went shopping to buy toilet rolls, flour, yeast, Spanish olive oil and gummy bears, all the essentials for surviving the apocalypse.

Without getting all the attention it needed, COVID19 got ‘a bit’ upset, thinking we were not taking it seriously and started to infect the celebrities everyone likes, as it did with Tom Hanks.

That got it some attention from the news stations, who ran the story on each news broadcast, and all the people, who were now sitting at home watching thier screens, began to believe what they saw and hear on television, so they got frightened.

NHS Nightingale Hospital London, the first temporary critical care hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, opened in the ExCel Centre in East London, employing NHS staff and military personnel, with a bed capacity of up to 4,000. It was the first of several temporary critical care hospitals across the UK

Reacting to this, the Governments closed all the schools, hairdressers, bars and restaurants, so no one can learn anything or get their hair cut or have a beer with their frends… or their nails buffed and polished.

Then everyone had to work from home and attend Zoom meetings naked, wearing skimpy underwear or stained onesies.

The Stock markets bottoms fell out. (Out of where I’m not certain.)

Although, to be honest, most of us don’t understand why the stock market is so important or even a thing anyway.

I mean whose money is it anyway, where does it go, who do we owe it too, and where did they get it in the first place, oh, and how come there’s more money being made every year and when there’s not we’ve lost it? Is there a giant sofa with a ton of loose change behind the seats? Has anyone tried looking there?

There are just so many questions…

Anyway, while sitting around at home naked or squirming around in ragged onesies with your arse hanging out, we all got to meet a chap called Tiger King, thankfully only on our televisions. I’m guessing he’s the type of chap you would never take him home to meet your parents… Hmmph. Less said about that the better.

The ONE thing most can all agree on this year, Carol totally killed her husband… whacked him, and then Netflix was like you’re welcome, and we all realised there was no way we were washing our hands enough in the first place because all of our hands are now dry and gross and were all searching for lotion.

 

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April.

Bernie finally busted himself out of the American presidential race just as New York City became the perfect setting for The Walking Dead.

We also learned no one who needed them had any face masks, ventilators, or toilet paper.

Around this time, most people’s natural hair colour, including a great deal of grey, was showing above their root line and sales of home hair dye and other unessesary chemicals took off.

Oh, and Kim Jong – Un died, but then he came back to life… or did he? Is anyone really sure?

Who knows, because then, the Pentagon released videos of UFOs and really nobody gave a shiny shite about a fat man with a strange haircut after that.

 

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May.

Like at the predicted end of the world in the bible with the historical locust swarms, we learned of marauding murder hornets… and it dawned on us 2020 was probably the start the real-life Hunger Games, however, people must have forgoten to let us know it was starting.

In some places, people started to protest lockdown measures with AR-15s.

Sports events were cancelled everywhere. Theatres closed, both stage and movie. Aircraft stopped flying, ships and boats reduced their passage.

Basically the whole world shut down, which was a godsend for the wildlife, the sea and the atmosphere. Never in living memory has the air been cleaner, the skies bluer, the animals and birds more prevalent.

Then, people all over America finally reached a breaking point with race issues and violence. There were protests in every city, which was confusing to some because people were gathering in crowds standing a lot closer than 2 meters apart. Those people must have forgotten about the pandemic called COVID19 I guess?

The media struggled with how to focus on more than two things at once, while people, in general struggle to focus on more than anything more than that which was being dangled in front of their nose at the time.

A dead whale was found in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. Monkeys stole COVID samples from a lab and ran off with them.

All the while our astrologers were shitting their collective knickers, as a giant asteroid narrowly missed the Earth.

I think it swerved to avoid the Covid19 monster personally.

 

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June.

Common was cast from the window, somehow wearing facemasks became a political thing.

Then everyone remembered the pandemic, just as scientists announced they found a mysterious undiscovered mass at the centre of the earth, and everyone cried out “DON’T YOU TOUCH IT”.

However, after a deep breath, everyone realised people believed ‘Gone with the Wind’. They thought the film was like non-fiction too.

Then they announced of a strange radio signal from somewhere out in the universe which repeats itself every so many days… then everyone cried “DON’T YOU ATTEMPT TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT”.

In the UK, Jonty Bravery, an 18 year old, is jailed for 15 years after throwing a six-year-old boy off a 200 ft balcony at London’s Tate Modern gallery, leaving him with a bleed to the brain and life-changing injuries.

America decided to reopen from the shutdown that wasn’t ever a shutdown… and, so far, things have gone spectacularly well… well, no, they haven’t to be honest, they are not doing very well at all. 

The UK experiences its hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching as high as 33.3 °C (92 °F) and hords of brain dead twats swarmed the beaches and spread the virus amongst themselves… the effects are yet to materialise, it takes a few weeks… 

Then, like a mass birth of rabid raptors, all the Karen’s came out and started tearing down statues of long-dead people, people who no one knew or remembered… until that point.

Whatever happens, history cannot be changed. Something so few seem to comprehend.

Everyone is then on Facebook, arguing about masks. are they effective… well no… not if you dump your discarded masks and gloves in supermarket carts, baskets and scatter them across countless car parks, they just hold and harbour the virus carrying further afield.

Mind you, I have said for years many people should have their heads entirely covered in public places anyway,  generally to reduce mass nausea. (I guess that’s another story though?)

Then we learned of a massive dust cloud coming at us directly from the Sahara Desert, which is fairly normal, but this is 2020, so the Ghost of the Mummy and the Scorpian King is most likely lurking in that dust.

One bright note is the Congo’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak is over… what do you mean, what Ebola outbreak… where have you been this year? Have you been distracted?

We have also discovered FLYING SNAKES, yes, seriously. FLYING SNAKES. And what about the 200,000-duck army China is sending to Pakistan to help with the locusts… yep, that’s the truth.

 

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So, we get to this month, July….

Some people, at this point, think we are over it. Of course, they are wrong, very, very, wrong.

This is just the beginning.

Not allowing for what additions are next. like Aliens, Zeus, more Asteroids, Artificial Intelligence becoming self-aware… (Skynet?).

Oh, joy… Live long and prosper.


 

WtIPV1smallWithin the Invisible Pentacle is available from Amazon UK

https://amzn.to/2SrwzIx

And from Amazon

USA

https://www.amazon.com/Within-Invisible-Pentacle-Paul-White/dp/1720987653/ 

These stories vary widely; some will make you laugh aloud, or nod in agreement. Others will make you shiver with apprehension, while a few might bring tears to your eyes.

The prevailing factor is, they are written with consideration for our fragile human disposition, the fears, the dreams and wishes, the uncertainties and self-doubts we all carry inside ourselves, the human element of love, of life and of survival.


 

Injuries, wounds and healing… information to aid your accuracy.

 

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This is far from my normal ‘Rambling’, but…

After reading several books over the last few months I have realised the need for authors to portray far more realistic accounts of their victim’s injury and healing processes.

Getting this wrong not only disrupts the believability flow of the story but often wrong-foots the reader’s perception regarding the course of the true timeline.

How many times do we such inaccuracies represented in ‘blockbuster’ movies? One moment the protagonist is beaten to a pulp and cannot stand, the next he is running after the perpetrator of a crime with nothing more than a slight limp in his left leg… oh, now it’s his right leg… no left again.

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Of course, when our hero takes the full impact of a 9mm parabellum, it is nothing more than a flesh wound and within a day he has discharged himself from the hospital and is fighting, and winning, against a dozed bad guys.

Okay, a film has a limited time to play out, often between ninety and one-hundred and twenty minutes. However, with a book, there can be no such excuse. Authors are not restricted to a timeframe and, in all honesty, not as hobbled by word count as they once were.john-wick-chapter-2

The modern reader demands accuracy in the authors account and rightly so. It is easy to browse the net and check for details of even the most obscure event or condition your characters may encounter. Therefore, research is becoming the defining line between a ‘professional author’ and a ‘hobbyist writer’.

If you scroll down and/or browse through the posts here, on Ramblings from a Writers Mind, I am certain you will find a wealth of helpful and useful information, much given in my usual random and wayward manner, which I hope most people find entertaining too.

Interspersed between my ramblings are some direct and useful bundles of information, such as the following which focuses on wounds, injuries and the healing process.

I shall not give any written account regarding the following as I think the illustrations say all that is required.

You may wish to download and file the images for you own reference records, please do, Particularly if it will assist you in creating far more realistic situations and timeframes in your works… of which you may always send me a copy.

Keep happy, Paul.

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I hope the information above makes you consider reading one of my books, maybe my short novelette, A New Summer Garden, which you can download as an eBook here, or order as a ‘Pocketbook’, a small-sized paperback which will slip into the rear pocket of your denim jeans… or into your bag, handbag, rucksack, or just about anywhere. Get the pocketbook version here.

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A bit more Rambling…

As always, my intention of posting regularly is not happening; as they say, (whoever ‘they’ are), the highway to hell is paved with good intentions!

Even now, in lockdown or self-isolation or whatever you may be calling it, my life is far too hectic to guarantee I post in any other way than at random intervals.

Generally, my posts tend to be informative, either about publishing or to give insights into writing or ‘being indie’ while trying not to get too technical and academic… hence boring.

This post is not focused on any of the above, it is simply me ‘Rambling away’ about what has taken my time over the past… however long it has been.

So, without further ado this is it.


If you are a follower or regular reader of my ramblings, you will know I run Electric Eclectic, in its most simple form it is an alliance of indie writers from around the world who, besides promoting their books, are ready to help and aid other writers with their personal and technical dilemmas regarding all things indie publishing.

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Several things are happening with Electric Eclectic, the first we are encouraging more authors to join our ranks.

Secondly, we are accepting entries to the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020. The ‘Prize’ is the winning stories having their books published as paperback and eBooks along with marketing packages.

We are also at the formatting stage of Electric Eclectics latest anthology, one especially written to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE-Day. It is simply called VE75.

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The Government brought forward the May bank holiday to May the 8th is to coincide with the VE-day anniversary. Sadly, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the planned public events are most likely to be cancelled.

However, Bruno Peek, VE Day 75 pageant-master, told me,

“Even if I must ring around every organisation and individual involved and tell them we’re cancelling, there is something everyone can still take part in regardless. At 3 pm on Bank Holiday Friday, the nation will be asked to raise a glass to toast the heroes of World War II – men, women, children wherever they are. We’re not asking people to raise a glass of alcohol so everyone, all people, faiths and creeds, can join in. It can be done anywhere: in the supermarket, at home. The Prime Minister can even raise a glass from Number 10 if he’s not able to leave Downing Street by then.”

Electric Eclectic is producing VE75 as an eBook, so people can simply download it to whichever device they wish. The book is part of the VE-Day celebrations, so I hope you will buy a copy and help support our military veterans and military families in need.

Apart from my Electric Eclectic commitments, I am working on several ‘Works in Progress’, two books in particular are;

FLOYD, a bloody psychological revenge thriller, while On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion contains my personal views on life, living, the state of society and the world in general. I shall let you know when they are due for publication.

Meanwhile, you can read about my Works in Progress and find my published books, including some special editions which are not available from Amazon, here.

Apart from writing, I am a digital artist and photographer, feel free to browse my art website.

Of course, I still have all the ‘normal’ regular home and household chores to attend to. Add to the above, my position as editor of Electric Press Literary Insights magazine and you will see, even shut in my home, I am far too busy to be able to commit to a set programme of posting to this blog.

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I started this post with the intention of thanking all my followers and subscribers and regular readers… you know who you are, and to say keep safe, keep well and keep happy.

Please, if you are an author, consider joining us at Electric Eclectic. Email us for more information, EEbookbranding@mail.com

If you are a novice writer or even an established author, think about entering the Novella Fiction Prize.

If you are a booklover, a bookworm, a bibliophile then subscribe to the Electric Press magazine, it’s FREE and it is simple, just go to the Electric Press blog, where you can also read the current edition

Well, that’s enough of me for today.

See you on the other side.

Paul.

Unconnected connections of habit.

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I recall reading Roald Dahl’s ‘Georges Marvellous Medicine’ to my son when he was a child. One phrase I found particularly hilarious was when George’s grandmother said, ‘Growing was a nasty childish habit’.

I’ll give you a short extract for context.

‘You know what’s the matter with you?’ the old woman said, staring at George over the rim of the teacup with those bright wicked little eyes. ‘You’re growing too fast. Boys who grow too fast become stupid and lazy.’

‘But I can’t help it if I am growing fast, Grandma,’ George said.

‘Of course, you can,’ she snapped. ‘Growing’s a nasty childish habit.’

As it happens, in the ensuing years I found my son adopted other ‘nasty childish habits’ growing boys seem to enjoy. I mentioned most of them to him in much the same way as George’s grandmother, not that it had any effect!

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However, it is not childhood or growth or adolescence peccadillos I speak of today, but one of habits.

You see, like many other authors, my mind is constantly working overtime. Even when I am ignoring it, doing regular stuff like cleaning, gardening or shopping, it is whirring away noticing things, listening to other people’s conversations, reading notes, lists and phone screens over people’s shoulders and so forth.

It really is a bit of a rouge in many ways.

Rotational_symmetries_in_designs_produced_by_a_kaleidoscopeDSCN2440The thing is, those subconscious bits of my mind remember it all, record it and mull it over, twisting totally unrelated events, jiggling individual occurrences, shaking them together until a kaleidoscope pattern of instances which hold the possibility of illusory whimsy form.

This is when it digs a sharp elbow of attention into the soft kidneys of my platitude, painfully jerking my ‘normal’ daily thoughts away from the mundane and into the imaginative world of fantastical conception.

Last night, as I was going to bed, I felt the aforesaid sharp elbow ram painfully into the soft parts of my consciousness.

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A voice in my head spoke excitedly to me.

 

 

“You know,” it started, “you write a fair bit about remembering the past, about nostalgia and stuff?”

“Um, yes,” I said, not sure where this was leading.

“Well, what about if people get all nostalgic because they survived it?”

“Survived it?” I questioned.

“Yeah.” The voice was shouting in my brain. “Think about it.”

“I’m going to bed,” I said. Trying to placate my thoughts.

“Yeah, but you’ll not sleep, not until you understand this.” The voice said sounding a little annoyed and a more than a little bit smug.

Of course, it was right. I needed to do this now, as tired I was. So, I grabbed a notebook and pen. I have several dotted around the house exactly for moments like this.

“Okay,” I said, “fire away.”

“How about if… people love the past, the recent past, like the times in and around their childhood because they lived through it, or most of it. They survived relatively unharmed. Well, they must have done or they wouldn’t be here now, would they?”

“Um, no,” I replied, “I suppose not.”

“So, just like in a good book, or a movie, where the hero rides off into the sunset at the end, that’s what you have done, along with everybody else who reminisces. You rode off into your sunset and arrived in the here and now.”

“Well, maybe, sort of.”

“I’m right. The past is where your parents were. They helped keep you safe, mended your cuts and bruises, kissed your grazed knees. It was home, comforting, warm. Your bedroom your inner sanctuary, guarded by your parents.”

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“I guess so.” I was chewing my inner lip. Something I rarely do. “But not all memories are good ones, bad things happened too.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” my mind said, “I’m not talking about those bits. No one gets all sentimental over the bad stuff. We remember it when we must, but not in a nostalgic way. Nostalgia is reserved for nice memories.”

“I’ll go with that,” I said, nodding to myself.

“Well, that’s the key,” my mind continued.

“The key to what?” I asked.

“The key to writing something captivating in your books, especially when you’re basing them in the past, or have characters talking about ‘back when’ & ‘do you remember’ and stuff. It’s great for flashbacks, prequels and shit like that. Think about it.”

I was thinking about it.

“Even a futuristic story must have its past.”

I scribbled a few rough notes, odd aide memoir single word notes I could refer to later. (That later being now).

The thing is, after a good night’s sleep, a day carrying out family chores and a visit to the dentist for a clean & polish, I have mulled over my conversation with the excitable voice from last night and my conclusion is… I agree.

It makes a ton of sense for us to hold fond memories of good times. They could well be recollections of childhood events, maybe a loving mother tucking you into bed, possibly escaping an annoyed farmer when scrumping for apples, or like some of the memories I have written about previously, such as days out for a family a picnic or a train journey to the seaside; all exciting experiences for a child.

My teenage years hold more life events which have helped forge who I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I have instances of near-death, but… I survived to tell the tale. I did ride off into my sunset… although some moments may be more akin to crawling along a drainage ditch in inch thick cloying mud… but those tales are for another time.8ZXBf5MBEC-10

It’s called living life.

As an author, I feed on such memories, use them to build my fictional worlds, create my characters, lay plots and write scenes. It is a habit I’ve adopted.

Until now, until the conversation with myself, I did not consider why nostalgia, which is according to the dictionary, ‘A sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past; even one never experienced,’ is such a powerful apparatus to use to elicit emotion.

Now I have spent time complementing the reasons, it makes perfect sense and one I shall be far more aware of when employing it in my writings in the future.

So, while scrumping for apples and reading George’s Marvellous Medicine may be unconnected events, both in time and geographical distance, the voice in my head found a way to join them together into a cohesive entity.

You could say they were unconnected connections of habit.

Keep Happy, Paul


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I would love you to check out my books, you can see them all on my website, even those not available on Amazon, including exclusive hardcovers.

Don’t forget to look at my Electric Eclectic books, eBooks and Pocketbook paperbacks You can find them on my website or on @open24, the Amazon store for readers & writers

I am open to comments and communication, so feel free to contact me at pwauthor@mail.com or via Facebook.

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Publishing trends, predictions & forecasts for 2020

Those of you who follow Ramblings from a Writers Mind will know this time of year I put my ‘professional neck’ on the line by expressing my prognostications regarding the publishing industry for the coming year.

The first of these predictive posts was made way back in December 2017, when I forecast my assumptions for 2018. Looking back now, you will agree I pretty much nailed it. See for yourself,Insights & Publishing Trends for 2018′ 

Last year I published, on the 27th of December 2018, my review for this year, 2019. How accurate is this forecast? ‘Publishing Trends & Indie Author Insights for 2019′ 

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This year, I am once again sticking my neck above the parapet by suggesting what will be happening through 2020, regarding the publishing industry worldwide, especially that which affects the Indie Author.

I have been asked why I post this forecast every year.

My answer is simple; if you have an idea of what is happening, going to happen or reasonably likely to happen, you can plan your writing, your genre, your book and cover design, marketing, promotions, and social media content to take full advantage of the markets predicted movements and organic flux.

In simple terms, you can be proactive rather than reactive and keep up, if not stay one step ahead, of the game.

I have not organised the following in any particular order, so scroll down and pick out the areas which interest you the most and then work through the other sections as there is, most definitely, information you really do want, (or need,) to be informed about in each section.

1 – Book Cover Design Trends

2 – Audio/Audiobooks

3 – AI (Artificial Intelligence)

4 – Emerging reach methods

5 – Social Media

6 – Telling Stories on social

7 – eBooks and the Indie effect.

8 – India

9 – Authorpreneurs

10 – POD/Inventory

11 – Author Alliances

12 – Crowded Social

13 – Fundamental Shifts

So, without further ado, this is my insight and predictive forecast into the indie book market and international publishing industry worldwide for the year AD 2020.

1 – Book Cover Design Trends

As a digital artist and book cover designer, this is one area I personally enjoy keeping a close eye on.

There are many elements to good design and bringing them all together in a limited space while incorporating all the necessary text elements is an often-underrated skill.

With the lists of newly released and soon to be released books now in the public domain, it is easy to see the prevailing design trends. Many of which, I suggest Indie Authors should take heed of.

  • The first is those where the designers create Technicolor covers, washes of psychedelic textured rainbow patterns, which appear to be moving across the cover or jacket. It is their dimensionality that tricks the eye.
  • Continuing from 2019 is text and images which overlap images and text, and become interwoven with them, lending an almost 3D effect to the cover.
  • Minimalist covers, such as monochrome with basic lettering, will carry over into 2020. The simplicity of such covers, usually using a bold background image, works well against shelves full of multicolour and bright renditions.
  • Handwritten style fonts, occasionally used with ‘crossing out’ of bolder texts, do not seem to be going away but are becoming more inventive and eye-catching.
  • Staying with text. A resurgence, in a modern form, will be shuddering, shading, glows, bevels and reflections. Big bold typographic statements that ‘jump-right-out’ at you.

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2 – Audio/Audiobooks

The audiobook market has grown in double figures for six straight years with a 37.1% growth in the USA in 2018. (latest figures)

The original audiobook provided a way of reading for those with visual problems and the elderly. The CD market for audiobooks formed 54% of sales in 2010 with digital downloads at 42%.

This has changed in recent years, partly because older people tend to be more tech-savvy and partly because the audience is becoming younger. The average listening age has moved from over 50 in 2010 to under 50 now.

As technology advances, so does demand. Smartphones, tablets and more recently, the growth in artificial intelligence have all contributed to the rise and fall of different markets with physical products taking a hit.

2020 will continue to bring a more diverse listener as marketing targets people of all ages from all walks of life.

The rise of the podcast has, in part, been responsible for the popularity and growth of audiobooks and will continue to bring in new listeners (across all ages) as its popularity transfers across to audiobooks.

People utilise the ability to listen to books while doing other things like gardening, travelling, jogging, knitting. Despite advances in screen technology people still drop devices in the bath or struggle with the sun when on holiday, not to mention the need to hold the device while sunbathing. Audiobook offers a solution to these problems with obvious benefits.

The Big Five publishers have only recently recognised that the audiobook market is the only sector demonstrating year on year growth, but boy are they noticing now. They have huge marketing budgets which will have a big impact on future audiobook trends. There is already and will be more aggressive marketing by the big players who will want to dominate and take their share of the pot. Targeting has only just begun to attract under 45s who use smartphones and AI more than older generations.

Indie authors have to some extent been reluctant to get involved because of the price of production is prohibitive. Having said that, many have entered via the royalty share option offered by producers such as ACX. Early adopters found more success with non-fiction books and these are hugely popular with figures for the final quarter of 2018 making up 25-50% of sales in some non-fiction genres.

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3 – AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Firstly, I am touching on a subject which is pertinent, but one which I expect will see smaller businesses and Indie Authors woefully trailing behind. It is one, however, which opens new opportunities or expands on the offerings of those already in the market.

This is the new wave of IT, or AI, as this in the next organic technological expansion. This evolution of IT will allow the integration of content, engagement and auto-tagging to scale and create process efficiencies.

While basic SEO will continue for the foreseeable, AI leveraged contributions will be at the forefront of the shift to mobile-first index and aid continued spotlighting of both local and personalised search results.

Publishers will start to create platforms to collect and visualise audience and community data as the focus on segmentation grows even more. This will lead to building branded lean sites featuring authentic storytelling and content native to the digital platform.

While content remains king, site architecture will focus on redistributing the information in forms which ensures easy to find and easy to access content for customers.

None of the above,  which may be some time before becoming widespread and accepted, should detract from already accepted processes.

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4 – Emerging reach methods

It is important for Indie Authors and small press publishers to monetize traffic whenever possible.

This should not simply be considered a ‘secondary’ income stream but needs to be considered as part of the mainstream income.

Podcasting and 4K video are two areas Indies can consider. Both need a savvy website design and high-speed Internet.

Note: As mobile use continually grows users expect all content to load just as quickly and easily on their phone as on their computer. Since websites play such a vital role, trends surrounding them range from AMP to PWAs to Schema markup.

Okay, let’s get to some facts.

  • You will need to leverage podcasting with publishing. In 2018, podcast listeners in the US grew from 40 per cent to 44 per cent of the total population.
  • The top revenue stream for worldwide news publisher became digital publishing subscriptions with 44 per cent of the world population reading online.
  • Printing is not going anywhere. Most businesses, 64 per cent, told the Quocirca’s Global Print 2025 study printing will remain important well into 2025.
  • While the global book publishing industry is worth about $103 billion, it has continued to experience 0 per cent annual growth five years running.
  • Self-publishing continues to provide an “in” for those who want to publish, but self-published e-books provide better response for the author. On Kindle, 17 of the 100 top-selling books are self-published.
  • Publishers report their highest priority in 2020 is audience growth and marketing with 34. 2 per cent placing it at the top. Second priority comes successful SEO, say 25.8 per cent.
  • Publishers have deserted traditional media as a source for information and instead, 64.2 per cent say they read blogs with second place going to forums with 11.7 per cent of publishers reporting it as their source for industry news.
  • Publishers say their biggest challenges of 2020 include creating unique content that readers want, 23.3 per cent, keeping up with Google algorithm changes, 22.5 per cent, and diversifying website revenue, 20.8 per cent.

Okay. that’s the ‘techy’ stuff and what the larger publishers think. So, what can the Indie do, what are the trends to follow, or even lead on, regarding Social Media?soc

5 – Social Media

Habits change, platforms evolve, and new platforms come into existence. All this influences how people use and react to social media marketing, as well as how marketers can reach their audience.

What you did last year, or the year before, probably will not give the same results now. Like giving away your books for free… that is a big NO-NO for 2020.

There are now 3.484 billion social media users across the globe, which is a 9% increase compared to last year. This equates to 45% of the world’s population being on social. It also means social media adoption has beaten previous estimates, which estimated 2.82 billion would be using social media in 2019.

Saying that, more people are choosing to “detox” from social media, deleting apps and profiles to step away. This is more than the usual changes seen, in terms of people choosing to use one platform less in favour of another, such as Facebook seeing users decline but Instagram attracting more, this trend is seeing people take a temporary or permanent break from all social media.

One in three adults in the UK are reducing their social media use. Some 6% of users have removed an app from their phone, 6% have permanently deleted their accounts and 8% have deleted their accounts and removed social media mobile apps. A big reason for this is people feel overloaded by social media, with the permeation of social media affecting mental health and wellbeing. Others choose to detox because they don’t trust social media platforms, either due to issues like Fake News or because of privacy and data concerns.

This is not to say social media will become void in terms of digital marketing, but marketers do need to understand the impacts.  It’s also vital you ensure your social media presence is as meaningful as possible. Your brand needs to offer more than memes, you need to deliver content which is positive and memorable. Content that makes an impact on your audience and provides as much value as possible.

While sharing posts you believe your target audience will enjoy is part of maintaining your social media presence, but you also need to encourage and cultivate interactions which are more than a simple like or share. Many brands/other authors have large numbers of social media ‘followers’ yet, their engagement levels are almost non-existent. Don’t be them. Be a brand who attracts engagement from their followers by building communities around your content.

Encourage your(self)/team to create their own social presence to promote content and increase overall brand trust. This tactic leads to an authentic voice for your organisation/brand.

Twitter chats help create a strong sense of community through content, bringing thought from all areas together in a real-time conversation. It gives your brand the perfect opportunity to engage directly with current and potential customers/readers.

Building social media communities help with word-of-mouth marketing, which is another big social media marketing trend for 2020. Communities allow engagement with nano and micro-influencers. many who will already be advocating your brand. Give them more reasons to share honest views and experiences of your products/books/author services.

Note: I mention Nano & Micro-influencers above. These are the people you need to create ongoing relationships with, not the ‘big influencers’ ones often associates with that term.

‘Big influencers’ are no longer trusted by consumers as their activity is clearly biased and devised for commercial reward. They no longer have the impact they once did and are seen as disingenuous.

In comparison, smaller influencers, ones who are likely to be part of your communities, tend to have better relationships with their followers, benefiting from a higher level of trust. This can lead to more engagement, thus increasing levels of trust in a brand/author/books which is more likely to culminate in conversion.

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The rise of alternative platforms

Whilst Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tend to be the core platforms, many users are growing fatigued with their continuous ‘moving of the goalposts’ in order to generate even high levels of their already extreme profits, seemingly at the expense, or disadvantage of their users.

This has led to brands, including the individual entrepreneur/author having to fight harder than ever before to achieve good levels of organic reach and engagement. While Twitter has seen some growth during 2019, its active user numbers are far from its all-time 2017 high.

Similarly, Facebook has seen a huge drop in users, especially younger users, over the last two years, with the younger audiences opting to spend time on other platforms. Combine the above with the increasing pay-to-play format of social media channels means brands are not seeing the result from the core platforms.

Be prepared for more changes through 2020 as these core platforms jostle for users and introduce alternative and optional platforms and media channels.

  • TikTok, with a younger target audience (41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24) could be a great platform to encourage engagement with users who are stepping away from more traditional social media platforms. TikTok is the destination for short-form mobile videos.
  • Although Pinterest is far from new on the scene, it has experienced a recent resurgence. Pinterest has found it fits well into the e-commerce space and has an audience who are engaged with the idea of buying products they see on the platform. 75% of Pinterest users say they are “very interested” in new products compared to just 55% of people on other social media platforms. Brands report success on this platform, reporting 2x higher returns on ad spend from the platform than other forms of social media and a 1.3x higher return than traditional search.
  • Consider Virily is a relatively new Blogging Platform which opened its doors in May of 2017. Its offices are located in Estonia and Macedonia.

Virily practices revenue sharing, which for the small publisher and Indie Author, means the content you post and the interactions you make on the site earn you a share of the platform’s income.

So, by simply posting your engaging content via Virily, sharing that to your other social sites, from which your posts will be viewed, you will earn some revenue. Don’t hold your breath though, you will not earn a fortune, but if you are constantly posting engaging content, which you should be, then why not do it via Virily and earn a few cents per post?

The one downside is, you cannot post long/large blogs (like this one). But you could break it down into three or four shorter articles.

Utilizing alternative platforms allows you to engage with an audience who may not be on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, as well as providing you with different ways to share your content.

This could help deliver better results and shape your future social media marketing strategy.

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6 – Telling Stories on social

I have given this short section space of its own. Although it is still focused on social media, it is also at the core of what we authors do… tell stories.

Allow me to elucidate.

A long time ago I offered my services, on a commercial basis, to companies seeking ‘alternative’ marketing options. By a long time ago I mean the early two-thousands, so around twenty or more years ago.

This involved something I termed, CBNM, or ‘Creative Brand Narrative Marketing’. Not to be confused with ‘Narrative Marketing’.

I promoted the idea thus:

Unlike regular or standard brand narrative, CBNM uses flash fiction, short stories, essays and other narrative mediums to embed brand awareness and responsiveness into the consciousness of the consumer as a cultural and social standard, making it familiar and customary, thus creating longevity of brand loyalty.

CBNM is well suited to the internet; particularly Social Media Platforms, Web Communities, Forums and Blogging chains. Yet can be designed in such a manner that also allows inclusion in traditional and established marketing mediums.

CBNM is pro-active, flexible and adaptive. It can change and adjust your communications to express any modification or revision as and when required.

While I was more focused on the written word at the time than the current fashion for image-led ‘stories’, I see no reason the two cannot be combined and, with the option of linking the message to various other platforms, like Instagram, Amazon or ones own website. I see sharing ‘stories’ is a growth area for engagement.

I was way ahead of the game and now the rest of the world has caught up, as CBNM still holds true today, in fact, even more so. CBNM is all about engaging with one’s audience, about creating great content, about engagement and about eliciting response… the current mantra of all marketing gurus and one of the ‘must do’s’ of 2020.

Since the launch of Snapchat, other social media platforms have rushed to add the Stories format to their offering. The result has been huge growth in the usage of this format for Instagram in particular, which as of January 2019, boasts 500 million daily active Stories users across the globe.

On average, brands are posting Stories on around seven days a month, averaging out to one Story every four days.

Instagram.

  • Instagram Stories are more authentic than traditional Instagram posts that allow for heavy editing and altering.
  • Content is only available for 24hrs, therefore, it is current and will not become outdated.
  • Consumers want live updates and real-time content. Instagram Stories are normally the most up-to-date content a business can offer a consumer.
  • Through Instagram Stories, you can share other people’s Instagram posts. This function allows people to connect easily with other accounts and businesses.

Stories are not a suitable option for every brand, but as stories are engaging and seeing increased use, will lead consumers to expect brands to create Stories, it is worth assessing if and how you can utilize them.

An ongoing question I am asked is, “What’s the future of reading regarding eBooks and Print.”

Since the creation of eBooks, reading on the go has become so much easier… or has it?

Whether you daily commute or travel by plane, seeing people with e-reader devices in their sticky paws, rather than a traditional paperback book is not an uncommon sight. The prime difference is most devices avail the user to such a range of activities, it is so simple to flick, slide or click onto the next thing that comes into the user’s mind. From bidding on that must-have from eBay to browsing Amazon, to looking at pictures on Instagram before opening an eBook and reading another chapter, all can be done almost instantaneously.

Oh, for any doubters out there, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Reading a book is alive and well.

A recent Survey Monkey report revealed people have read eleven or more in the last twelve months. Uncategorised fiction came in first at 26%, with mysteries and thrillers coming in at a close second (22%).

What is interesting is the majority preferred to go with a print book when reading, with around 58% saying they purchased books in both formats. It seems people like the e-readers because they can store more, but overall, most people prefer to read a traditional printed tome whenever they can (70%).

Even with so many people liking the smell and feel of a paper book, curling up on a rainy afternoon with a mug of tea and a thriller may become a thing of the past, feared 45% of respondents.

What has not changed is peoples’ love of reading, no matter what shape, size or format the stories come in.

However, the above are just a few results from a relatively small market sample which was mostly based on people opinion rather than die-hard facts.

The following is a look at the state of the book market and takes its lead from industry published facts.

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7 – eBooks and the Indie effect.

Two new sets of numbers covering 2017 (latest available figures)show ebook sales are on the decline, both in terms of unit and dollar sales.

NPD’s PubTrack Digital, saw the unit sales of ebooks fall 10 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016. In absolute numbers, that meant the roughly 450 publishers represented saw ebook sales drop from 180 million units to 162 million over a year’s time.

The second, The American Association of Publishers, reported a decline in overall revenue for ebooks, a year-to-year decrease of 4.7 per cent in 2017. AAP tracks sales data from more than 1,200 publishers.

This ebook decline occurred in an overall publisher revenue environment that AAP said was essentially flat in 2017. So, some other kinds of book formats that AAP watches, like hardback books, went up as ebooks went down. For its part, NPD says when combining print and ebook unit sales, ebooks’ percentage of the total dropped from 21 per cent in 2016 to 19 per cent in 2017.

Children’s ebooks had the most dramatic decline in unit sales, and children’s/young adult ebooks have suffered double-digital revenue drops ever since the year 2015. Whilst adult fiction remains the most popular ebook category, with 44 per cent of all adult fiction sales in digital form.

However, neither NPD and AAP measure indie sales.

This is simply because centralized reporting of direct-from-author sales is tougher to come by, but by all anecdotal measures the independent market has taken off, notably in the also-still-large category of adult fiction.

One serious source of numbers for online book sales, including for indie ebooks, was the website Author Earnings. (Recently defunct) It estimated that traditional publisher reporting is, “now missing two-thirds of U.S. consumer ebook purchases, and nearly half of all ebook dollars those consumers spend.”

They say; “Ninety per cent of all romance purchases are ebooks,” the site’s latest report for Q2-Q4 2017 stated. “And we can see that science fiction and fantasy, with roughly 75 per cent of sales now ebooks and audio, is not that far behind.”

For all categories of ebooks, Author Earnings figures purely “indie” publishing accounted for at least 38 per cent of ebook units and 22 per cent of ebook dollars in the last nine months of 2017. And that doesn’t include micro presses, Amazon’s imprints.

“The indie share of the entire U.S. ebook market … now looks like what the indie share of Amazon alone used to be,” Author Earnings concluded. “In other words, far from losing ground, the overall indie market share has grown.”

So, you may be wondering: Are people buying more ebooks or more print books, overall? It’s hard to tell, across all kinds of books. Author Earnings doesn’t track physical bookstore sales, and NPD and AAP only track traditional publisher sales.

Jeff Bezos, whose Amazon distributes a lot of independently published ebooks, made it a point to note in his annual letter to shareholders that, “Over a thousand independent authors surpassed $100,000 in royalties in 2017 through Kindle Direct Publishing.”

Part of the apparently increasing shift of authors to indie status may be about the money.

 “In traditional publishing, the writer sees a sliver of the profits — 5-15 per cent,” SFWA President Cat Rambo, herself a hybrid author, told me. “In small press publishing, that number goes up significantly, and indie writers get to keep the biggest portion of the pie.”

The future of ebook publishing may increasingly belong to the independent author, especially as traditional publishers shift more marketing weight onto the writers while charging a premium for their traditionally published product.

2020 will see the market share of Indie Authors and Publishers increase again. More traditional published authors will move, at least part of their catalogue, or new book publishing, to the Indie market and in doing so will bring subsequent changes to the way the Indie market operates.

Mainstream publishing houses will also continue to encroach into the indie field as Penguin has with their Independent Publishing arm… which I find a contradiction in terms… but there we are.

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8 – India

India’s book market, currently worth Rs 261 billion making it the sixth-largest in the world and the second-largest of the English language ones, is expected to touch Rs 739 billion by 2020.

General and literary fiction is ranked the number one genre in the books segment while “test prep” was the most sought-after genre in Academic books.

The consumer data survey, (Nielsen India Book Market Report) shows, on average people read books 2.1 times a week while nearly two-thirds read the book occasionally; interestingly, 56 per cent of the respondents bought at least one e-book a year and nearly half of these bought at least 3-4 e-books a year indicating a growing demand for digital books.

Fifty-five per cent of trade sales are of books in English. Books in Hindi account for 35 per cent of Indian language sales.

While the market is highly fragmented, it is also experiencing consolidation, partly due to presence of the merged Penguin/Random House/HarperCollins’ acquisition of Harlequin (all companies with substantial presences in India), but also in educational, with S Chand’s acquisition of Madhuban, Vikas Publishing House and Saraswati Book House, and with Laxmi Publications’ acquisition of Macmillan Higher Education.

Vikrant Mathur, director of Nielsen Book India, adds,

“There is enormous potential in the Indian book market which has been highlighted by the report, enabling publishers, booksellers and libraries to gain a deeper understanding of the market, pin-pointing areas that can be developed and those pinch points that need to be addressed in order to bring more efficiency and cost savings to the Indian book market and its supply chain.”

Those authors who are part of Electric Eclectic will know this marketplace is already being explored by Electric Eclectic. For those authors who are not part of Electric Eclectic… then maybe now is a good time to join us.

I cannot write this forecast without mentioning Amazon… so, here is a brief mention…

Amazon has reported strong growth metrics across business segments in recent years. Much of the company’s top-line growth has been on an organic basis, with the only major exception being the $13.7 billion addition of Whole Foods and resulting physical stores to Amazon’s offerings. (latest available figures.)

Expect Amazon’s combined global online sales to increase from $130 billion in 2018 to over $180 billion by 2020.

The company’s net revenues to increase from $178 billion in 2017 to $235 billion and increase to over $340 billion by the end of the decade.

Accordingly, the online sales business is expected to contribute around 44% of Amazon’s overall revenue growth in the same period.

No one predicted, 10 years ago,  Amazon would emerge as the world’s largest cloud provider, or it would be opening physical bookstores, or offering innovative ways for customers to shop without cashiers (Amazon Go stores). I say Amazon will be pursuing a growth opportunity a decade from now that no one is talking about currently.

I cannot say what Amazon will look like in 2029… but…

Although Amazon is already enormous in size given its nearly $233 billion in annual revenue, there are still many places around the world where Amazon hasn’t penetrated. International revenue makes up about 28% of the company’s total revenue, and the largest market outside of North America is Germany.

Amazon will need to overcome obstacles as it expands internationally.

In China, where Amazon has less than a 1% share of e-commerce sales, Alibaba has a stranglehold on the market.

In India, where Amazon has been investing heavily, it has run into an obstacle in the form of new government e-commerce and anti-monopoly policies that force foreign competitors to compete more on quality of service instead of price.

But Amazon is just getting its feet wet.

In 2019, Amazon started to expand in Brazil and just opened its first e-commerce store in Turkey.

Amazon has generally run its international operations at a loss, but that’s indicative of Amazon’s moat. It requires billions of dollars to build the infrastructure in these countries, not to mention navigate around complicated laws and regulatory environments. There are not many companies in the world, except maybe Walmart, that have the capital and patience to lose money for several years while building the necessary scale to earn a profit.

While Amazon doesn’t disclose advertising revenue specifically, its “other” revenue category, which primarily includes ad revenue, increased 117% to $10.1 billion in 2018. Amazon’s ad business is growing at a faster clip than Facebook’s and Alphabet’s. It’s estimated that by 2020, Amazon’s ad business will reach $15 billion, which eMarketer expects to come at the expense of Google’s digital ad share.

While Amazon’s core retail business will continue to grow around the world, investors should keep their eye on Amazon’s cloud business Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS helps companies connect and scale a host of services and systems in the cloud, including machine learning, blockchain, storage, database system hosting, analytics, and business applications, among several other services.

Revenue from AWS has more than doubled to $25.7 billion over the last few years. It was estimated that Amazon had a 52% share of the public cloud service market in 2017, according to research firm Gartner.

What’s more, AWS contributed nearly 59% of Amazon’s total operating profit last year. One analyst with MKM Partners thinks that AWS alone could be worth $1 trillion by 2024, which is more than Amazon’s current market value of $871 billion (total shares outstanding times the share price).

Over the next decade, you can expect Amazon to continue to push forward internationally and penetrate the crevices of commerce and help migrate more people over to a digital economy. There’s still a lot of opportunities domestically, as well, given that e-commerce sales still represent less than 10% of U.S. retail sales.

International, advertising, and AWS are some of the big things that will drive growth going forward, but CEO Jeff Bezos is never short of ideas of where to steer the company. With Amazon currently pursuing opportunities in non-retail industries, such as the $135 billion video game industry and the $3 trillion healthcare industry, the company will likely look very different a decade from now. But that is what makes Amazon one of the most dynamic companies in the world, and why it’s a great growth stock to tuck away in your nest egg.

That’s it on Amazon. (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.)

I don’t really need to say much else, except to ask where would we, as Indie Authors, would be without it? You may consider Amazon to be a Marmite company, love or hate. For me, the benefits of association far outweigh the alternatives… so, I’m in the love camp.

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9 – Authorpreneurs

I expect to see more self-publishing authors taking the role of “authorpreneur.” Publishing a book is a business venture, one with you, the author, as the brand.

Many successful and experienced authors now build their brand and establish their credibility in a given field. It is not enough to simply write a book; authors must market themselves, become involved in their own promotions and advertising.

This opens opportunities to help, aid and coach other authors, and to create other revenue streams. This can be in editing, proofreading, promotions, marketing, design, virtual assistants, virtual customer services, the supply of hand-crafted merchandise, online stores and more.

Some author organisations, such as Electric Eclectic, allow their authors to use established branding and to work with other EE authors.

2020, I am sure will see many Indie authors utilising their skillsets in this way.

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10 – POD/Inventory

Print on demand remains an important option for indie authors, one of the key factors which allow the independents to compete with their larger and better-funded competitors.

While eBooks are still in (slight) decline, print books show no such signs and allow the Indie Author the freedom of not having to hold a large inventory. An issue even large companies must contend with… even Amazon.

To deal with congestion at its warehouses, Amazon has cut book orders to publishers over the last several weeks. (reported by Publishers Weekly, Nov 19

The head of a publishing company said,

“if Amazon orders don’t rise to what has been typical ordering patterns in past years within two weeks we could lose the entire holiday season.” He added, “that if problems with Amazon persist and orders continue to be low, it is possible some online book sales could move to BN.com and other retailers such as Walmart, which has invested heavily in its online operations.”

It is this freedom from having to batch print and hold physical stock (of any quantity) which allows the Indie Authors to compete.

I don’t think 2020 will see any major movement from the likes of Barnes and Nobel or Walmart with regards to carrying indie-published books directly, but I am certain these companies are looking into the possibilities of creating their own POD systems.

If they do, it will open up a whole new world of possibilities for the Indie Author… stay tuned, folks.

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11 – Author Alliances

This is not new in concept, but these cooperative associations are morphing into successful unions.

In 2020 I expect many more Indie Authors to pull together to advocate for themselves. For example, authors are challenging the control ACX, a marketplace owned by Audible still wields over the audiobook industry.

For uploading an audiobook, and perhaps a simple quality check, they ask for a percentage of sales twice the size the author receives. Authors are starting to question this and, now, more equitable alternatives are starting to appear.

An important shift now is that predatory and fraudulent companies are being exposed, as authors come together to protect their best interests.

ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, is helping authors sort the legitimate actors from those that have been subject to repeated customer complaints and legal action. Their ranking offers a one-stop resource for authors to determine if a publishing service comes vetted and recommended, with a Watchdog Advisory, or somewhere in between.

Another form of author alliance is common branding.

For example, Electric Eclecticallows its members, Indie Authors and small press publishers, to use the Electric Eclectic branding and share in the brand and individual author marketing initiatives.

My own expectation is, it will be harder to survive without forming an alliance, partnership or collaborating with others.

Take note from some of the big brands who partnered up to expand their reach and increase sales. For example, Starbucks and Spotify, giants in the coffee and music streaming business. They integrated the Spotify mobile app with the Starbucks My Rewards program and app. When customers were in the store, they could use either app to find out what music is playing in the store and add it to their saved music in Spotify.

The payoff for Starbucks was that the collaboration drove customers to download the app and join their customer loyalty program. As for Spotify, users who subscribe to their paid memberships get extra points for Starbucks My Rewards program. The partnership is mutually beneficial, and both companies have the potential to reach the other’s audience without sacrificing their brand.

And that is the key, Mutually beneficial’. Time to get you Mutually Beneficial coalition(s) up and running.

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12 – Crowded Social

Indie Authors must contend with far more than the competition of other books. You must also compete for space and attention which a million and one other products and services are fighting for.

This is most obvious of these are other forms of entertainment.

Almost every day some newform or platform for entertainment is announced. The sources proliferate online, authors compete with not only radio and TV, but the new streaming services beyond just Netflix, including Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, along with sports, live theatre, podcasts, video games, and more.

It can be difficult to stand out, to be seen when you are alone. To stay relevant, Indie Authors need to brand themselves and, as above, share branding, at least for some of their works.

One area where indies can have an upper hand is on a local basis, one’s hometown and county. This year 2020, make it a prime task to link up with your local media, radio stations, newspapers and television. Find out who runs Podcasts and blogs with local content in your area.

Once you have some airtime under your belt or even scheduled, you will find organising book signings far easier as your target destinations will be more receptive.

If you get on extremely well, why not have your local radio broadcast their show from the premises you are holding your signing. You make the radio happy, the bookstore happy and get a ton and a half of great exposure in your local community… hey, celebrity status at last!

Basically, as with all marketing. Think ‘outside the box’. (At least a little)

 

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13 – Fundamental Shifts

Of course, fundamental shifts in publishing will continue and not all of them will be predictable. (Except maybe by me? Lol) Authors do need to stay informed, this year 2019, we saw Sci-Fi, Cosy Mysteries, Women’s fiction and Historical fiction all come to the forefront of ‘trending’. I expect this to continue, at least for the first quarter of 2020.

Over the past years, we have seen Amazon grow from a minor player to the largest book distributor. Borders and the subsequent focus on B&N and Waterstones. Direct to consumer marketing, the vexing issue of ‘Discoverability’ and powerful trends like Open Access. Increasing globalised markets, innovations of workflow, and so much more.

But above them, all were the sea changes in how books of any kind were bought and sold, whether print or ebook and what this meant for the process and structure of publishing.

I think, starting now, we will see the effects of consolidation. Maybe. Eventually, an emergence of supergiant companies, such as the joining of forces of such giants as Pearson, Bertelsman, RELX and Lagardere… all as one? Maybe.

It is not so farfetched. Penguin (&) Random House, now incorporates Harper Collins. Nature and Springer are now one company. Each is a behemoth in comparison to what was considered ‘big’ just 20 years ago.

So, what does this hold for the Indie, the single hard-working writers such as you and me?

Thankfully, I see the road ahead as favourable.

While scale and centralisation may well be the future for the giants, the smaller ‘Davids’ of the world can look forward to continued diversity. Which is a good thing.

The growth of writing platforms, like Wattpad, YouTube for words, Vice, Buzzfeed, blogging and niche newsletters, are all thriving, which proves the case for more an unfiltered environment, rather than a controlled one… (one of the reasons Facebook is losing users.)

Think about the indie publishing markets future like the ripples caused by a stone being dropped into water.

Today, we are in the centre… time to ride the ripples outwards as they and the market expand.


Did you know Electric Eclectic has its own Amazon store?

@open24 lists all Electric Eclectic books, books from associate publishers and a range of gifts for writers and readers.

Have a browse now, @open24, an Amazon store.

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